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Chamber Pushes Priorities During Frankfort Forum
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce outlined their priorities as they heard from state officials during a virtual Frankfort Forum last week. 

The event was held in two Zoom sessions, with the morning portion including a pre-recorded message from Governor Andy Beshear and discussions with House and Senate leaders, including Rep. Randy Bridges and House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steven Rudy. 

The Chamber's legislative priorities for this year include investing in infrastructure, tax reform, COVID-19 legal liability protection, and unemployment insurance modernization.

Rep. Rudy and other legislators mentioned bills they passed in the first part of the session that put limitations on a governor's ability to indefinitely declare an emergency. They are in response to Governor Andy Beshear's actions since March 6, 2020, where legislators have not been consulted while he issued executive orders. Beshear vetoed the bills but lawmakers voted to override him. Now the governor has sued to stop them from taking effect. Rudy refuted those who have said legislators are trying to make a "power grab."

Rudy said, "We are the policy-making branch of government. It is our duty to see that the policies are set, and it's the executive branch's duty to carry out the policies of the policy-making branch." 

He said previous authority given to governors never envisioned a pandemic that could last as much as a year or two. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer was asked about Senate Bill 5, which would provide liability protections during the pandemic to certain businesses, schools and individuals. He said some of the bill's language is being tailored to make sure it covers only COVID-related incidences, and it should move from committee to the Senate floor within a few days. 

(Note: Since those comments were made, bad weather has caused the General Assembly to cancel meetings this week.)

Thayer said, "All of us know that we need to protect businesses and non-profits and schools and folks who operated during the COVID, during difficult times, followed the CDC protocols to protect them from any frivolous lawsuits."  

The afternoon session included presentations and interaction with the Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky League of Cities, and Capital Link Consultants. 

Chamber President Sandra Wilson urged those who participated to contact their legislators so they know how the business community in Paducah feels on these important issues.

Published 05:56 PM, Tuesday Feb. 16, 2021
Updated 03:52 PM, Wednesday Feb. 17, 2021

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